Living in a Sunset

13 Dec

Sunset in Big Bend, Texas.

Seems no matter where one is, even in town, one can see the greatest starts and ends of the day as the sun rises and sets on the horizon. It always fills me with warmth, power and awe.

In his book, Unweaving the Rainbow, Richard Dawkins discusses at great length that understanding nature’s mechanics need not destroy the beauty and passion of life. John Keats, one of the classic poets, complained that Newton’s experiments with prisms and his discovery that explained the physics of colors in light destroyed all the poetry of rainbows.

But in biologist Dawkins’s world, and mine, science is poetry. The world as rich and full of wonders. And, if one lets it, it is a source of pleasure. Even the interplay of the tiniest molecules, the orchestration of DNA with its environment, and the show-stopping color-plays as light and atmospheric refraction.

In my scientific pursuits – science of the natural world- science does not destroy, “but rather discovers poetry in the patterns of nature.” The millions upon millions of patterns of snowflakes, the undulating folds of the mountain side, standing on the top of a jagged uplift looking at the flat valley below and hearing the piercing scream of a hawk coasting below your feet. Knowing that millions of years ago, this lifted ground was thrust upward violently and ripped apart while the earth shook, like a planet giving birth. Looking at thousands of years of evolution swirling around in the white viscous DNA in the test tube held between your fingers.

Sunrises, sunsets, rainbows – these are but a few of the many wonders of science, nature and poetry.

“A Keats and a Newton, listening to each other, might hear the galaxies sing.” (Dawkins)

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